Sports / Soccer

Messi to miss Rio Olympics: Martino

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-02-02 09:35

BUENOS AIRES - Lionel Messi will miss this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to remain fresh for Argentina's World Cup qualifying campaign, national team coach Gerardo Martino said on Monday.

Messi to miss Rio Olympics: Martino

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during match between Malaga and Barcelona of Spanish Liga BBVA in La Rosaleda stadium, Malaga, Spain, January 23rd, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Argentina will contest the Copa America in June and the Olympic Games in August, and Martino suggested the continental tournament would take precedence.

"We have the Copa America, the Olympic Games and three World Cup qualifiers in September. It would be asking too much of him to have him in all three competitions," Martino told Argentine radio station La Red.

The former Barcelona manager added that each of the Albiceleste's three permitted over-23 players in Rio would likely be defenders.

Messi was a part of the Argentina team that won the 2008 Olympic football tournament in Beijing. The Albiceleste did not qualify for the competition four years later in London.

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